Tom Walker's wife packs up her valuables to take into the forest. Why might a silver teapot like this one be considered valuable?
"Tom now grew uneasy for her safety, especially as he found she had carried off in her apron the silver teapot and spoons, and every other portable article of value."
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In the 18th century, house wares, such as teapots and cooling ware, were made of baser metals, specifically copper, brass, cast iron. Only the very wealthy could afford the cost and upkeep of silver ware. This is because silver was, and is, a precious metal, though much more accessible in the 20th and 21st centuries than in the 18th. In addition, silver requires attentive and time consuming upkeep because silver tarnishes (builds up a blackened layer on its surface) and is unusable in a tarnished condition. To forestall or repair the tarnishment, silver must be polished carefully and gently (overpolishing decreases its luster and ultimate value) at regular intervals in an elaborate and painstaking process. In the 18th century, butlers were very good at this....
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